Thursday, December 30, 2004

Meme Me

Thanks to Michael Toland for scooting this my way...


1. Who did you last get angry with? ***I’ve been angry for about a week now. Mostly about work. Will spare you the rest.

2. What is your weapon of choice? ***Funny, I begin judo next week. I’ll finally have some training to back up this attitude.

3. Would you hit a member of the opposite sex? ***If attacked, sure. I’ll hold the door open for a lady, but if she assaults me she’s no lady, and chivalry has no place.

4. How about of the same sex? ***Yes indeed. I park in a fairly rough area, so it wouldn’t surprise me if some near-scrape at some point gets physical.

5. Who was the last person who got really angry at you? ***A sales manager in Tucson, heh heh.

6. What is your pet peeve? ***Bad drivers, mostly.

7. Do you keep grudges, or can you let them go easily?***I need to work on this. Once someone’s hacked me off I’m bad about just sort of crossing them off some imaginary list. If they can be a jerk to me once, I can make them persona non grata for a long time. Forever sometimes.


1. What is one thing you're supposed to do daily that you haven't done in a while? ***Floss

2. What is the latest you've ever woken up? ***I’ve probably cleared noon a time or two, long ago, pre-children.

3. Name a person you've been meaning to contact, but haven't: ***Phil Nedbalek, though I have text-messaged him recently.

4. What is the last lame excuse you made? ***”I really don’t feel like standing around in a roomful of people holding cocktails.” Wasn’t really lame, actually.

5. Have you ever watched an infomercial all the way through? ***Highly doubtful.

6. When was the last time you got a good workout?***This is where I avoid the temptation to make sex jokes, right? Okay, trying… Um, 10-odd days ago at Jade Mountain.

7. How many times did you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock today? ***I believe this morning may have been the first time in my life I did it. My son was up puking at 2:30am, and let’s just say that I was dragging a bit this morning.


1. What is your overpriced yuppie beverage of choice? ***Iced coffee at Starbucks.

2. Meat eaters: white meat or dark meat? ***Both.

3. What is the greatest amount of alcohol you've had in one sitting/outing/event? ***I have no idea how to answer this. If you’ve ever been drunk to the point of blacking out, well, suffice to say you’ve had a lot.

4. Have you ever used a professional diet company? ***No.

5. Do you have an issue with your weight? ***Not really.

6. Do you prefer sweets, salty foods, or spicy foods?***Spiiiiicy. Do not underwhelm me with subtlety.

7. Have you ever looked at a small house pet or child and thought, "LUNCH"? ***Who wrote this messed up question?


1. How many people have you seen naked (not counting movies/family)? No idea. I’m a guy, and I’d hope this is excluding the thousands of times I’ve been in locker rooms. As far as lovers go, which seems to be what this is implying, I will take a strangely prudish bent and not go there. I know, surprising…

2. How many people have seen YOU naked (not counting physicians/family)? ***See #1.

3. Have you ever caught yourself staring at the chest/crotch of a member of your gender of choice during a normal conversation? ***Um… no, I don’t think I have.

4. Have you "done it"? ***Ah, so a 12-year-old wrote this. I have two children, folks.

5. What is your favorite body part on a person of your gender of choice? ***Butt, although they have to take care of their feet. I will notice if they’re gross, and I will be turned off. Not sure if that makes me a foot fetishist. Aren’t they into toe sucking or something?

6. Have you ever been propositioned by a prostitute? ***No. Flipped off, yes.

7. Have you ever had to get tested for an STD or pregnancy? ***I give blood regularly, and that includes an AIDs test. And I was tested for STDs as part of a physical once.


1. How many credit cards do you own? ***One.

2. What's your guilty pleasure store? ***Starbucks.

3. If you had $1 million, what would you do with it? ***Build a house.

4. Would you rather be rich, or famous? ***Rich, baby.

5. Would you accept a boring job if it meant you would make megabucks? ***Hell, I’m already doing boring… why not get rich at it?

6. Have you ever stolen anything? ***Yes.

7. How many MP3s are on your hard drive? ***Several dozen.


1. What one thing have you done that you're most proud of? ***Become part of a loving, normal family with a good wife and kids.

2. What one thing have you done that your parents are most proud of? ***Not sure. Not too many of us go to college. Um… or raising my kids. Or… Dad’s awfully proud of my unpublished book.

3. What's something you would like to accomplish in your life? ***Getting my bloody book published.

4. Do you get annoyed by coming in second place? ***No. And this makes me a bad guy to invite to poker night. I don’t care about losing; I’m a social player.

5. Have you ever entered a contest of skill, knowing you were of much higher skill than all the other competitors? ***I get the big head about my writing, so yes.

6. Have you ever cheated on something to get a higher score? ***Once in high school. Got caught too.

7. What did you do today that you're proud of? ***I comforted my sick child.


1. What item (or person) of your friends would you most want to have for your own? ***Bruiser’s Ramones shirt.

2. Who would you want to go on "Trading Spaces" with?***GENEVIEVE GORDER GENEVIEVE GORDER GENEVIEVE GORDER. Or Paige Davis in a pinch… is that the kind of answer you’re looking for? If this about remodeling, PLEASE…

3. If you could be anyone else in the world, who would you be? ***Nah, I don’t want to do that.

4. Have you ever been cheated on? ***Yes (“just visiting” MY BUTT)

5. Have you ever wished you had a physical feature different from your own? ***Yes, unless this is really a question about genitals. Interpret that however you want.

6. What in-born trait do you see in others that you wish you had for yourself? ***A straight spine, like Toland said.

7. Do you wish you'd come up with this survey? ***Wow… someone’s proud of THIS one…

8. Finally, what is your favorite deadly sin? ***Lust. I’m a guy. It’s how we’re wired.



I'd like to purge this job of mine from my system. It's been a really frustrating, really angry week. Never take a job where you deal with sales people. I've had about the best relationship possible with this bunch (or so I thought). And still they put in bonehead orders, gripe about meaningless maneuvers, don't communicate well, have to be led by the hand too much... not to mention sending me not so much as an email or e-card for the holidays. I'm their traffic manager; in days of yore, sales would take care of their TMs at Christmas. I'm not 11; I'm not hankerin' for a GIFT. It's just that I recognize their non-gesture as emblematic of what they think of me and our relationship.

I'm making a lateral move to another position in January, and it's not a moment too soon. In this lifetime I am DONE with sales.


This is the time of year with the least amount of baseball news, which is no fun. But Kelli got me the DVD Faith Rewarded, about the 2004 Red Sox. Watched it last night, and man, seeing the Yankees lose NEVER GETS OLD. And honestly, NESN did a fairly classy job with the production (overly dramatic voiceover aside). Remember that riot cops had to take the field during one of the Yankees/Red Sox ALCS games, and there's almost no mention of that. It was in Yankee Stadium, and the RCs were necessary because the fans were on the verge of rioting when a pair of calls went against their team (gasp!). Were I the producer I'd have been tempted to go into a lot of detail about it. I'd have also re-played the Yankees game 7 loss in slow motion... ("Watch Mariano Rivera curse in Spanish... see the tears in ARod's eyes??").


She also got me the hardback of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn. Hot damn, another book to read before school starts.


Current music: "Bye Bye Bye" by Jellyfish. Nothing like a good singalong polka to steer one's day the right direction.

Stop by again. I'm bored, agitated, restless... maybe I'll update 20 times today. Ideas? Polls?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


I can't decide whether to try harder to fathom the tsunami disaster in Asia, or to try harder not to think about it.

I got caught in a storm surge once. It was '78 or '79. A hurricane was skirting the Gulf of Mexico.

It didn't hit near us, but it came close enough to cause the tide to come way in. We took the van to the beach, where the water was 100 yards or so farther in that it should have been.

Paul, a stepbrother I had at the time, waded into the water unnoticed, and I followed. I was about chest deep when this strong undertow swept my feet out from under me. I was by a utility pole, and managed to wrap both arms around it as the water pulled me. I was submerged horizontally for several long seconds before it stopped pulling. Neither adult noticed until we were coming in from the water.


My Law and Order namesake, Lenny Briscoe, has died. RIP Jerry Orbach.


Listened to Moving Pictures by Rush this morning for the first time in quite a while. I still think it's a landmark album. Neil Peart... I know more about drumming now than I ever have, and I'm more impressed than ever by his over-the-top technical prowess. Not trying to defend an approach that some might consider lacking in soul. I'm just saying that no one I've ever heard can dissect a backbeat like Peart.

Love these "Witch Hunt" lyrics: "Quick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand. Ignorance and prejudice and fear walk hand in hand."


Jim Reeves's piece on Johnny Oates's funeral was excellent. I was crying at breakfast. Way too many tears this holiday season.


Having egg nog flavored coffee. I'm largely opposed to flavored coffee, but Erik brought it in, and it's not bad. At least it's not hazelnut.


I can still remember my grandfather asking his wife one holiday season to give him some more "nog," meaning whiskey or rum, minus the creamy stuff. This is about as close as I get these days.


Have a good week. Please.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


From a story about libraries closing in Salinas, hometown of John Steinbeck:

"It's embarrassing, not to mention inconvenient," said Ben Lopez, 69, a Salinas resident since 1945 who visits the Steinbeck branch at least twice a week. "Where else will I go to check out material -- Prunedale?" he said, referring to a relatively spartan branch of the Monterey County Free Libraries system.


Is there really a city named "Prunedale," or did we just slip into a Simpsons-oriented alternate reality?


Got my new speed bag mounted in the garage. It's SOLID too. Can't wait to get out there and do some work. Should be good for the part of my back that gives me the most trouble. And I'm sure I'll pummel it when angry sometimes. Hell, I should put one up at work.


Weirdest town names? I'd say Pleak, Texas is one that's always stuck with me. Midlothian too.

Happy Tuesday. And remember: Breathe.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Wesley Willis Wishes Us All a Merry Christmas


And so this was Christmas.

The thing that was the focus--overwhelming my son with toys--went off perfectly. Santa brought him a fishing pole (with a Shakespeare reel; not a bad little rig, actually) and a kite, though it was too cold to go outside and fly it. Too cold for me at least.

He got robots of a few varieties, superheroes, games, everything. Our living room was a glorious mess for two days, with his goodies scattered here and there. The baby can make a startlingly rapid approach to some forbidden toy when she wants to, and sometimes when THEBOY was tied up with a movie or another toy I'd go ahead and let her gum some toy of his she found.

Kelli got me one of the few things I really wanted: Faithful, by Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King. It's a chronicle of the 2004 Boston Red Sox season. It's good for sure, written for guys like me. It's funny how you can tell when a book wasn't edited by a sports fan though. All the minutiae aren't just meaningless hoo ha to some of us, and when there's an inconsistency you can tell the editor just didn't have the snap to notice it. But a good book, and OH DEAR GOD does it make me antsy for the upcoming baseball season. I'd recommend it to my baseball buddies, but they ALL hate the Red Sox (thus making them Yankee lovers, aka devil worshipers).

I got Kelli the Live Aid DVDs, and some sort of Duran Duran thing. She's happy.

Michael got me the soundtrack to Big Bad Love, based on the Larry Brown book. It's full of songs from great artists like RL Burnside, Asie Payton and Junior Kimbrough. I went out and ordered the DVD on Christmas day.

The holiday was fine overall, but I was in the grips of this foul mood I just could not shake. I really tried to fake my way through it. Started Christmas Eve. Not sure what was behind it. Okay, so I'm estranged from my mother. That makes this the least-stressful Christmas I've experienced in a really long time. Amanda tells me Mom went incommunicado over the holiday, taking/returning no phone calls, giving no indication of... anything. Location, health, whatever. Not the first time.

Dad's friend Mike Broadway died on Christmas Eve. Dad called me and put on a brave face, but I know it's rough on him. Mike was a good guy. He grilled me up one side and down the other about Juke (as do most of Dad's friends; I hope he hasn't run them ragged bragging on my shelved manuscript).

"You really think you can come up with an idea for a book no one's ever come up with before?" Sorry to say you'll never find out, Mike, and that I may never either.

Johnny Oates, who led the Texas Rangers to their only division titles ('96, '98, and '99) also died Christmas Eve. Oates was a classy guy, a man of good moral fiber who made a lasting mark with the Texas franchise. He lasted three years with a type of brain cancer that usually kills in six months. I don't envy him that.

And there's Larry Brown, of course, which still hurts. Pop open the Big Bad Love CD, and the booklet has an intro from Brown. Made me smile.

The baby is sick. Coughing a lot, snotty. Not awful, but she doesn't sleep worth a shit sometimes, and last night was typical. Cried from 3am to 5am. Now I walk in to greetings of "you sure look tired." Yes, yes...

Antibiotics don't touch what she's got, and the doc really thinks it's allergies, maybe even related to her formula. We've been through about five. Oy.

Anyway... I'm not depressed per se. I've shaken the lingering anger that haunted me over the holidays. Now I just feel tired and dazed.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Overheard in the office today...

"People just aren't used to seeing monkeys on tights."

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

My Real Parents, by Mike Nelson

Mike Nelson in '08.


Pondering our purpose...

Every part of every living thing has a purpose. Molecules, blood vessels, fluids, bones. From amoebas to humans, we are all made up of other parts. Evolution, adaptation, survival design, whatever--it's all fascinating stuff.

And at some point we humans became intelligent (I will refrain from further 2004 presidential election jokes). All that bit in the book of Genesis, though not particularly believable, is rather clever allegory; I hope most people would agree. Ignorance is bliss, as the saying goes, and when those two knuckleheads Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, they became self-aware. Gaining knowledge got them kicked out of the Garden of Eden (which is certainly a metaphor for bliss).

Suddenly, unlike the beasts around them, they had shame and, presumably, knowledge. What sort of deity wishes to deny the creations most like Himself knowledge? One who wishes to protect them from themselves, one might argue.

So unlike the beasts, humans evolved to desire more than just individual survival, primarily, as well as survival by procreation. Intelligence, art, love, hate... we became motivated by something more than procreating and finding sufficient sustinence to get through the day, the season, the year.

Considering the broad range of functional possibilities within living things, life is amazing. And when some scientist somewhere discovers something new about DNA or neurotransmitters or something, what he sees as scientific progress I see as the thumbprint of God.

Every one of these little pieces of the living machine has its purpose, be it essential, cosmetic or other. And once they are all properly assembled into some example of life, the creature is not less than the sum of its parts. Purpose doesn't end with connectivity. I believe we are far more than the sum of our parts, and our life purpose is a snapshot of God's will.

I don't know about the specifics. I was taught to be Christian, and that's a tough thing to shrug off, even for a person who got as muddled a message as I. Embracing the idea of Christ is something I don't fully manage to wrap my mind around. I appreciate the teachings of Jesus, and will always consider myself, at least, to be a philosophical Christian. I do think that 2000-odd years ago someone was here who rattled the planet somehow.

And there was one about 500 years before that, Gautama Buddha. And others. If you want unbelievable, check out the Buddha's story in the Theravada or Mahayana. It's full of his interactions with minor gods, his magic, talking animals, and any number of things straight out of your average Dr. Seuss book. And heck, the first Buddhist writings didn't appear until Indian emperor Asoka began scribbling about the Buddha roughly 500 years later (a reaction to Christ?). Again, as unbelievable as it is, I still can't help but feel like something happened that shook our predecessors to the core. And there were others. Krishna, Mohammad. Hendrix.

(Okay, just seeing if you're paying attention)

That's faith, which comes way too easily to the ignorant masses. Maybe I qualify, but I refuse to be counted among the lemmings all around me. Everything deserves questioning. It is our duty, as intelligent beings, to ask any question. And heck, who is the better seminary student, the one with the questions, or the one who swallows it all with no skepticism?

But I take comfort in the fact that, if I were minus the benefit of faith, I would still see God (the creator, the #1 Martian, John Lennon or whatever he/she really is) too much around me to doubt.

I don't know why good people die young.

I don't know why some people do bad things.

I don't think the greater power cares about touchdowns.

I think whoever it is has a sense of humor though, and I'm glad.

I don't know if there's a Heaven that resembles our notions in the least, but I do think there's more that we will experience after we shuffle off this mortal coil.

Remember that quote from Miles Davis, the one where he said something about how he would never be finished learning his instrument? Wish I had those words handy. Well, we never finish learning, hopefully. Perhaps God feared that knowledge would take us to the point where we considered ourselves too smart to believe, hence the protective measures. Maybe he didn't have the faith in us that we have in him. Hard to blame him.


I don't have the answers, and this is not the sole basis for my belief system. It's just one angle, something I've been ruminating on. I'll spend my whole life looking for answers, and I may change my mind here and there. I guess that makes me pretty average.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Merry Christmas, Baby

The Astros are letting Wade Miller walk. He had a frayed rotator cuff last June, and instead of going under the knife he opted to rehab it. Now, unsure how healthy he is, they'll let him go instead of ponying up a few mil.

I say he's worth a look. He's got a record, if I recall, of 31-12 with a good ERA. Young, talented, and likely to be cheap given the unknown health factor... He's low-risk, high upside at this point. Could be a nice Christmas gift for the Rangers.


Christmas of '86 had just passed when my old party buddy Tully Farley and I went to Houston to see a great blues show. We were in it for BB King and Bobby Bland, who didn't disappoint. The date was December 26, and the Arena Theater held about 5000.

But opening the bill was this trio, fronted by pianist/vocalist Charles Brown. I'd never heard of him, though I knew of two songs he'd had big hits with way back, "Merry Christmas Baby" and "Please Come Home for Christmas." It was a cold night, and we were two mildly bewildered young white guys in an otherwise black audience, settling in, ready to see a good show. I was out of school, directionless, split from my high school sweetheart... about the only thing I really knew at that point was that I loved the blues.

This guy Charles Brown was so smooth, knocking out his Christmas hits as well as an excellent, joyful set of cocktail blues, replete with his nimble piano and loping vocals. We were completely floored.

He'd just come back to the music biz after decades away. This was a man who influenced Nat King Cole and Ray Charles. I mail-ordered his One More for the Road cassette from some tiny label, and it was really good.


Tully and I lost touch. Sadly, he was one of a few guys in my life I chose to separate myself from. He wasn't a bad guy. He was no worse than I was. But together we were trouble. We partied too much, way too much. Shortly after we went our separate ways he had a party at his house, and a drunken stranger with a gin bottle smashed it across his face for no reason. Lots and lots of stitches. Tully looked a mess, and when he said his face was "ruined" I couldn't disagree. Last I heard he was working on a barge on the Mississippi River. No kidding.


December 31 of 1986 was the last time I ever smoked grass.


I'm due a paycheck any day now from some audio work I did this fall. I have to resist the urge to go out and really load up on toys for my son. He's already got quite a few gifts under the tree, but heck, I remember those Christmas mornings with so many toys very fondly.


Christmas of 2001 Kelli and I both got a bad stomach bug. THEBOY was a year old, crawling around the house as she and I lay on the floor, taking turns stumbling to the back bathroom to be violently ill. Our worst spells were spaced just far enough apart that when one of us was being sick the other could summon the strength to get up and feed the boy or change a diaper. That was a rough one.


More Charles Brown. We were in Seattle in '98 or so, having a nice little vacation. Great town for sure. Good scenery, great smells, interesting things to do. And the papers said Charles Brown was playing locally. We looked up the venue address and it appeared to be close. I called the club, and the machine said there would be an early show and a late show. We opted for the early one and started walking.

The club wasn't close at all. I'd injured my knee jogging recently, and it hurt as we walked way too far to get there. We were grouchy when we arrived at the front door, and that's when we learned that there was no early show at all. So there we were with two hours to kill in the cold, with very little in the way of local options. Mostly there were warehouses and such around there, and we weren't up to walking off to find entertainment. A hotel around the corner had a coffee shop that was closing, but they took mercy on us and let us sit there for most of the two hours.

At show time we returned and got our tickets. The usher seated us at a table, placing Kelli with her back to the stage. That elicited some harsh words, and he quickly saw the error of his ways. We both faced the stage, tired, stewing.

The lights went down, and what we saw wasn't encouraging. Brown was feeble, being led by the hand to the stage. He'd aged a lot since I'd first seen him, and it didn't give me great confidence in the kind of performance he could deliver.

He sat gingerly at the keyboard, all smiles, and began to play. And in moments the magic began to work. His hands had lost nothing, and he and the band played a soothing, smiling set of songs I loved. Bandleader/guitarist Danny Caron was brilliant, and he beamed like he had the greatest gig in the world. Every moment of anger, frustration and disappointment quickly evaporated as the band cast their spell.

Brown died January of '99.


Still sore from Sunday at Jade Mountain. Feels good though. I think I'm finally going to get my butt into some judo classes.


THEGIRL is not feeling well, just congested as heck. She wakes up crying, and I imagine she may have some pain too. She's seeing the doctor right now. Winter... who likes this stuff?

Have a good week, ya'll.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Home Again Home Again Jiggedy Jig

Had a good weekend, a really good one. I went to Angleton Friday to see some family. Had a fine time catching up with Dad, Charlene and Amanda. Her kids are too cute for words, and her daughter Maddie looks like her at that age. Best night's sleep I've had in a long time.

Saturday evening I had a tremendous meal and a fine evening with my buddy Whit McClendon and his wife Christina. Their son Connor is too cute for words, and seems to be made of lead... heaviest three-year-old I've ever encountered, and this is from the father of a fairly big four-year-old.We watched videos of many types, caught up, and spent the evening being boys.

Sunday Whit and I headed to his school for a day of Busting Brian's Butt. I had a good workout and a great introduction to practical martial arts. We worked on punches, kicks, elbows, slaps, etc. Had some fun with the speed bag and heavy bag, and Whit gave me some great gloves.

Then I attended a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu course taught by Sensei Paul Thomas . Great teaching, good group of guys. I thought I was lost in about 30 seconds, but I actually got to practice on some holds. I love how practical and straightforward BJJ is, with nothing wasted or just for show.

The drive home last night was probably my best-ever commute back from that area, and I was very happy to see Kelli and the kids. THEBOY is very proud of his "kung fu shirt," and wore it to school today.

And now... everything hurts. I held up okay yesterday, but it was a workout nevertheless. Opening doors hurts enough to make me laugh out loud. Feels good though.


Having lunch with Whit yesterday, I mentioned one of my favorite bands, Jellyfish. He said they sounded familiar. He thought a moment, and said, "Baby's Coming Back."

Guess who's about to get himself a Jellyfish comp CD from me...?


Currently popular word I'd be happy to never hear again: Canoodling


Have a good week, everyone.

Friday, December 17, 2004

On the Road

Hitting the road today. This morning was a mess, trying to load luggage and gifts and kids and still swing by the chiropractor's office.

And I hurriedly grabbed a bunch of CDs for the trip. The tunes:

BB King -- Live at the Regal
Helmet -- Size Matters
Dr. John -- Going Back to New Orleans
Joe Ely -- Live at Liberty Lunch
King's X -- Ear Candy
Motorhead -- No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith
Stevie Wonder -- Original Musiquarium I
Styx -- Greatest Hits (really unsure whether I'm going to listen to this... hey, I was in a hurry)
RL Burnside -- Burnside on Burnside
Cyril Neville -- New Orleans Cookin'
Soundgarden -- Badmotorfinger

Cyril Neville kinda scares me. I like his music, but he's got a shaved head with this dreadlocked THING growing from the base of his skull, and ... it freaks me out. He strikes me as being a New Orleans version of Flava Flav.

Didn't bring Varnaline's Sweet Life this time, for some reason. It's usually my "I'm in the home stretch" CD, the one I'll play when I'm almost home (in Hurst, that is). We all have our rituals.

Ya'll have a good weekend.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Here, There, and Everywhere

Gathering some thoughts and story snippets of the pertinent and impertinent variety...



Kelli noted recently that right now she misses John Lennon.


Accidentally put hazelnut cream in my coffee this morning. Who likes this junk? Coffee tastes good the way it is. I don't want flavors in it. Heck, I like corn too, but that doesn't mean I want my coffee to taste like it.


Going to Angleton this weekend to see some family. I'll also spend some time in the company of sifu Whit McClendon, getting a crash course in the finer points of choking someone.


The lousy week continues: I took THEBOY out to see Christmas lights last night. We were driving around this one nice neighborhood we always check out. In the middle of it all is a gazebo, and we got out of the van so he could explore it. I set him down and resisted my typically overprotective urge to warn him of all the steps around, all the things he shouldn't touch... but I didn't.

He took one step, tripped, and landed on his face, busting open his lip and bruising his forehead.

He had blood in his teeth, was wailing... I felt awful about it the whole night. Still do.

He was a trooper, though, and calmed down after a few minutes. This morning he said it didn't hurt, but it looked pretty bad.


I've known a lot of people who broke up. Hell, seems like more break up than stay together. And these particular two may have taught me a valuable lesson.

I won't go on and on about their dissolution. I will say, though, that I certainly found myself angry at his wife regarding some of the things he confided to me. Hurt my friend and you piss me off, right?

I didn't think she was a bad person. I still don't. Hell, he and I are alike in a lot of ways, and I imagine he can be as hard to live with as I can. I can be one moody bastard.

So I'm guilty of giving a cold shoulder, being distant. They broke up, so I remain exclusively on his team, right?

Not necessarily.

Now that they're apart, they seem to have pretty much put their marriage-related problems aside and managed to blaze a post-breakup trail I'm unfamiliar with: friendship.

So they split, do the mature thing by remaining friendly, and I'M the dope who probably held onto bitterness longer than either of them.

But not anymore. (Cue the Southpark music). I've learned something here...

Eh, I won't go on. But you understand. And I hope they do too.


Five great Christmas gifts from the past... as inspired by Mike Llorca (and semi-stolen from Georgina)

In no order...

A huge stereo Mom gave me when I was junior high.

An electric guitar and amp from my father. He either paid out the nose for that rig or swung a hell of a deal.

A leather jacket and matching driver's cap my stepmother got me for Christmas. Very nice stuff that I wear frequently.

Get in the Van by Henry Rollins, a gift from my sister, Amanda. And you know, not that the book is so great (it's solid), but this is typical of her to be the one bold enough to get me the freaky thing no one else has ever heard of but she knows I want. Thank the gods for the Amazon wish list, right?

Time/Life blues CDs from my mother. Kinda like Amanda, she always had that knack for getting me something off the beaten path. And these CDs are better than you'd think.


In Heaven I'll be able to sing, right? It'll be the first thing I'll ask when I get there. Well... second.

The first will be, "Say... is Salma Hayek here?"

(Just joking Kelli).


Ya'll be good.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Lost in the Shuffle

...over the weekend was the fact that THEGIRL began crawling! It's really cute. She's all herky-jerky, sticks her tongue out with determination, but by golly, she gets where she wants to go. She seemed to enjoy her new mobility last night while playing with THEBOY.

And then she got sick. Phooey. Runny nose, congestion... oy. Four days back in daycare and she's already got a bug that's sending her to the doctor.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


So I accidentally created a stir around here Friday, apparently. Well, semi-accidentally.

At 6:18pm I stood up and made an announcement to everyone within earshot. Paraphrasing myself, to the best of my memory here:

"I have a date with my wife tonight. We have the kids with a sitter until 10pm. My logs are done, my future inventory is in great shape, I'm 36 years old, and I'm leaving 12 minutes early. If anyone wants to rat me out for it, you can kiss my butt."

A coworker asked something like, "What, back up... rat you out?"

And I said, "Yes, it's happened before." I was glaring at the back of the head of the person who did it in August (for my birthday date no less; that little departure got me written up).

So I was out yesterday to care for Kevin, and I arrived this morning to hear three people tell me they'd heard (or heard about) my "outburst" Friday. They said that when I was out yesterday they had to wonder what the status of my employment was.

They also said they admired me for doing it.

I appreciate that, but what I take from this is an even heartier disdain for corporate bullshit, like being a slave to a time clock, regardless of what the realities of one's work output are. You should see the look of fear in their eyes as they whisper to me about it. I guess it's not unique to my office, but God, isn't this a pathetic work environment?

True story, which the David Allan Coe business reminded me of:

I snagged backstage passes to meet Robert Cray in late '90 in Austin. I forget the venue. I was waiting in line, and directly ahead of me was Johnny Paycheck, going relatively unnoticed. He'd just gotten out of prison, and I have to say, he seemed to be... under the influence of something I'm fairly certain wasn't Jesus.

When the line moved and he was next to get in, security asked him to show a pass, which he didn't have. And he said, "Hey man, I WORK FOR Johnny Paycheck."

And the security guy looked at him like he'd never heard the name before. So I guess he hadn't.

Paycheck then burst into the chorus from "Take This Job and Shove It."

And you know, they let him in.


Agreed with you, Bruiser, on the Coe stuff. Having a daughter will make you re-examine a few notions about the female gender, eh?

Happy Tuesday, ya'll.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Am I Easily Offended?

Posted at Toland's suggestion:

A guy here at work lent me a David Allan Coe compilation. The guy asked, "You're not easily offended, are you?"


Or so I thought.

My gosh... it's... it's racist country. I mean, it's just full of songs with the word "nigger" in them, bashing them, bemoaning the fact that some woman in a song cheated with one, or comparing some bad person to one...

Wow. I couldn't finish it. I put it back on the guy's desk, and the less I have to talk about David Allan Coe the better.


(Admittedly, that's cleaned up from the email exchange Toland and I had. The Coe stuff is dyed-in-the-wool-Klan-robe hateful, and it's pornographic too. I expected the latter, but not the former.)

The Tell-Tale Lysol

True story:

Hood clogged the toilet here a couple weeks ago. Clogs happen to everyone at some point I guess. Wrapped up his business in stall #2, flushed, and then came the dreaded rising of the water. You know that feeling... you're watching it, praying it doesn't overflow.

It didn't. But he still felt he had to do something to try and clear the clog. On the counter by the sink was a can of Lysol. It was worth a shot since he didn't exactly have a plunger around.

In it went, and it did no good, for whatever reason. He chucked the gross can in the trash and found some other way to unclog the toilet.

The next day he frantically summoned me into the bathroom. That's usually a bad way to start the day, I'd guess.

And sitting there on the counter was a can of Lysol. In fact, it was THAT can of Lysol, as evidenced by the remnants from the clogging incident* along the bottom rim.

We were stunned. Some hapless cleaning person had apparently seen it in the trash can and fetched it back out. Reasonable, since it was still nearly full.

Hood wrapped his hand in paper towels and put it back in the trash, pushing it way down and covering it with the other trash.


So we're leaving last night, departing through the back door of the TXCN studio, and there on the floor by the door was a can of Lysol. THAT can of Lysol, as the remnants were still visible.

And frankly, we're out of ideas for discarding this can, which is clearly cursed and will haunt us for the rest of our days. It's like some unpublished (and with good reason) Edgar Allan Poe story. "The Tell-Tale Lysol" or something.

*For Brazoria County residents, "clogging incident" might actually refer to something involving Riverdance-type redneck dancers.


This is all I've ever really read on Meher Baba

He's the Baba in Pete Townshend's classic Who song "Baba O'Riley."

I know that reading one random article about the guy isn't exactly positioning myself among the well-informed, but you know, I can't help but wonder what the heck Townshend sees in this. Baba clearly had a funny side... is Townshend actually some sort of darkly comic humanist? Is he playing a big joke on us? Or is he overwhelming moved by the fact that no one seems to think God has a sense of humor?

Or is he exactly the sort of Baba-babbling devotee portrayed here? Okay okay... guess I'll have to read more about the guy at some point. Meher Baba, that is.


It's only teenage wasteland.


I walked to the parking lot last night to discover that the car had been broken into. Crap. My fault... had CDs in a case in there. I've been driving Kelli's car. The van has everything hidden as far as CDs and stereo gear and stuff, but I hadn't used my head and straightened up the car yet.

So the window was smashed and the CDs gone. Mostly Kelli's stuff. He actually left a fistful of CDs in there, the stuff that would have been hardest to replace. A bootleg, some obscure stuff. Odd. Guess he didn't think a pawn shop would want Anders Parker, Helmet, or Jason Falkner. He did get my new King's X, Brendan Benson's first, and a Black Sabbath CD, not to mention the entire Led Zep box set. Damn.

Nothing else was gone. They didn't even send cops; you do a report over the phone.

Crappy evening after that for sure. Cleaning out all the glass was a BITCH. Thank God for my shop vac.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


I've been pondering this phenomenon lately, the one where two or three friends get into the same music at the same time. I mean, we music nuts love to make mix CDs for our buds, hoping we can turn them onto the brilliance of some old Aztec Camera song or a Jellyfish outtake. But getting someone to fall in love with something that also moves you is really gratifying. And rare.

Earliest time I can think of this happening, save for bands like Foreigner spreading like wildfire among kids in general way back when, is when Bruiser and Michael and I all fell in love with King's X at about the same time. Cannot remember who heard them first. I'm almost certain it wasn't me. There was Gretchen Goes to Nebraska, this pseudo-concept album by a Houston pop metal trio. Great harmonies, terrific guitar tones, clever songs, and some sort of loosely-defined concept. I've stuck with the band pretty consistently since then, and though they've put out some great stuff, nothing touches Gretchen. I honestly think they're better when they have something to say. They should do a Gretchen 2 or something.

Jellyfish... that's a big one. I think Michael pulled up at my house in Angleton with them playing on a boombox in his VW Beetle (hey, a man's gotta have his road tunes). I wasn't impressed at first. Not great, not bad; I still expected every pop album to be another Abbey Road. But I worked in this record store where Bellybutton was played a lot, and I really fell in love with it, not long after Toland had.

The Replacements. I have Bruiser to thank for them. I think I loved them from the first moment Bruiser played them for me in his folks' living room. "Can't Hardly Wait" still gives me chillbumps.

And oddly enough, Bruiser and Michael and I all seemed to re-discover Motorhead a few years ago. Maybe Bruiser was on board with them all along. But Toland and I seemed to just spontaneously crave that particular sound of theirs. He's seen 'em a couple of times. I've seen them once, and I know Bruiser's seen them at least once.

Sometimes it doesn't take. I thought I'd really fall for Spock's Beard. Gorgeous voices, pristine sound, clever arrangements... but I couldn't hang with all the prog excursions.

And I love Merle Haggard, but I don't think Michael feels the same way. Probably respects him as a songwriter and all, but man, I get genuinely excited when one of his songs comes on.

Other artists... Femi Kuti, who's been a really cool discovery for me. And the Bevis Frond. I'm not head over heels for it like he is, but I do get the urge to hear it. Was blasting it the other night while striking gear after an audio gig, and Erik, the on-site tech, commented on how good it sounded. Compared them to Space Hog, whom I don't believe I've heard.

We're doing it again with Jason Falkner. Launch kept playing songs from Can You Still Feel? (Mostly "Goodnight Sweet Night"). It was gorgeous stuff, and his Jellyfish connection didn't hurt. This was a year ago. Kelli was very pregnant with THEGIRL, and one night we hired a sitter for THEBOY so we could have what'd likely be a last date for a while.

We hit the CD store, and I picked up a copy of the Falkner CD, skipping right to "Goodnight..." Suddenly the impending arrival of my daughter had a soundtrack.

I was in one of my periodic extreme night owl phases, staying up until 3 or 4 am on Friday and Saturday. Kelli was uncomfortable, tossing and turning in bed a lot, so I slept in the nursery-to-be. And many of those nights I'd lie there in the darkness with Falkner on the headphones, and it was the best mood enhancer in the world. No sights, hardly any sensations except this lush pop masterpiece in my ears over and over.

Clever-ass record, and let me tell you, the lyrics have some emotional resonance too. Long about February, when THEGIRL was almost here and I was making up my mind to get more education and go into the substance abuse recovery field, the song "Author Unknown" was in the background: "If the path of least resistance is all you ever take, well at least you've been consistent in your defying Fate." The CD is just full of stuff like that, smart statements on art and inspiration. Not to mention sing-along choruses.

So I gave Michael the "you really, REALLY ought to check this out" push... and he did. Boom... something clicked with him too. Now he's doing like I did, getting the guy's other stuff (like the overlooked CD titled Presents Author Unknown, which is not a masterpiece but is pretty flippin' good in its own right).

It's really rewarding when this happens. I need to try and foist this on Bruiser.

I wonder what's next?

RIP Dimebag Darrell, but keep in mind that the "P" for him would probably stand for "party."

Suck City

Greatest book title I've seen in a long time: Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn.

And the Boldtype e-newsletter review caught my attention in one passage:

"What renders this devastating memoir so unique is that Flynn's story amplifies a rather risky concept: love is not unconditional; there are limits to love for a parent who consistently fails in his/her role as parent, whose actions come at the expense of their child's emotional stability."

Wow. I hope Santa Claus reads my blog.

Again, wow.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

From the G-Woman

Stolen from Georgina ( who has no idea how much time I've spent thinking about her lately, especially in the last 24 hours.


How many books do you own?
Plenty. Couple of big bookcases full.

Of which author do you have the most works?
Charles Bukowski, probably. Easily about a dozen books or more. Lots of John Steinbeck and Larry Brown too.

Are any of your books autographed? Which ones?
An excerpt from Billy Ray's Farm by Larry Brown
Ghosts Along the Brazos by Catherine Munson Foster (it's a Brazoria County thing...)
Austin City Limits: 25 Years of American Music (by John T. Davis) which my buddy Michael got autographed by ACL producer Terry Lickona
I am Jackie Chan by Jackie Chan
Some Stephen Pyles cookbook

That's all I can remember without being home with my books...

What is your favorite book? What book have you reread the most?
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. I grab it every few years for a bit of an attitude adjustment.

What is the oldest book in your collection?
You know... we've got several copies of books like The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask (Dumas) that are probably pretty old. Or a Grimm's Fairy Tales collection.

Name a book in your collection that you have never read, but intend to someday.
I devour any book of interest to me. I'm guilty of reading several at once, but if it remains in my collection for any length of time it's because I've read it and intend to keep it (or it's a reference or one of Kelli's books, like the Dumas stuff)

What book do you own that you have never read (and probably never will)?

Name a book (or books) in your collection that you're embarrassed to own.
Hmm... I don't feel great about Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw or Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion by Carol Tavris. They just reveal a bit too much to my guests, and though I respect the shrinks who've suggested I read them, well, I don't fully buy into the contents.

Name a book (or books) that others might be surprised to discover in your collection.
Uh... er... a Russian language dictionary? Eh... I have no shame about the things that I find interesting. For example, in our conference room is a print of a poster from a Texas State Fair (1939, I think) which pictures a Mexican man with an accordion. And every time I see it, I want to ask around to see if anyone can refresh my limited knowledge regarding the history of conjunto, as I think 1939 is just a bit early for the form to have gained a popular foothold in Texas. And then I realize that I work with normal people and keep my mouth closed.

So any topic in any medium is fair game. The world is our classroom, folks. We never finish learning, even if from bad books.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Dare Ya...


Got an A+ on my case study in counseling class. Good way to start the day.


Been on a big NPR kick lately, digging through mostly Fresh Air archives to listen to some interviews . Got Hank Azaria going now. Interesting guy, and talented. Alan Alda had some good anecdotes. And the Dan Aykroyd interview was more interesting than you'd think, since he's a big blues nut and all. Always nice to listen to someone speak my language.


Learning more about Hawaiian culture. Menahune are the Hawaiian "little people," compared sometimes to leprechauns:


God, it's only Tuesday.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Nariz Navidad

The new High Bias is out ( It's a really good ish, even though it's got some stuff from me innit... (nyuk nyuk).


A highlight from the weekend: THEBOY spontaneously bursting into his re-interpretation of the Jose Feliciano Christmas song. Instead of "Feliz Navidad," ("Happy Christmas") Kevin was singing "Nariz Navidad," which translates into "Nose Christmas." Excellent pronunciation of "nariz," but not quite the holiday sentiment Feliciano had in mind, I'd guess...


Still bothered by Larry Brown's passing. What little I've read about it online paints a grimmer picture of his drinking, smoking, and overall health than I was aware of.

I always had it in my head that someday I'd meet him, or at least write to him. The guy had an impact on me. He was an Alejandro Escovedo fan, and I'd hoped that one day Toland and I might actually undertake a Mississippi trip and seek him out, coercing an interview with the aid of a fine Escovedo bootleg I've got. Damn damn damn.


Had a speaker in class today. She was covering HIV/AIDS/STDs. And a woman in the back answered the speaker's first few questions the same way each time. "Anal?"

I'm not sure there's a classroom scenario in which I'd say that aloud.


Some interesting quotes from a interview with novelist Jerry Stahl. I'd post a link, but you've gotta sit through several pages of ads to even get there. Blech.

"I don't subscribe to the notion that Bush Jr. is necessarily the worst president -- but I do believe he'll be the last one."

"Self-destruction, at this point, is a wing of show business."

"What's left after they cremate you isn't powder, like in the movies. It's more like kitty litter or gravel. In fact, when I go, I'd like to have myself scattered on somebody's driveway."


Have a good week.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Larry Brown, RIP

Larry Brown died on November 24, and I only found out today. Heart attack. Age: 53

For those of you who don't know him (or only know the basketball coach of the same name), he was a writer from the Oxford, Mississippi area.

He wrote several good books and short story/essay collections: Joe, Fay, On Fire, Billy Ray's Farm, Rabbit Factory and more. He was the writer I want to be. Southern voice, good characters, not afraid to be different. He seemed to absorb the best from a lot of writers like Charles Bukowski, Cormac McCarthy, and of course, William Faulkner, and come up with a narrative style that was distinctly his own.

He wrote the way I think. I cannot say that about any other author.

I have most of what he wrote, but it's not enough now that he's gone. I don't have enough Larry Brown books. I have no idea what he may have been working on when he passed, or whether we'll see posthumous releases. I hope we will. But I'm sad to know that from here on out any releases will be... finite.

That's the selfish consumer in me. Hey, he wasn't my uncle; he was one of my favorite writers.

Go to your library and look him up. Fay is probably the least of his books (and it's not bad). On Fire is riveting. Billy Ray's Farm is engrossing. Rabbit Factory slick and smart. Big Bad Love is all smoke and oil and dirt roads. It goes on and on.

There will never be another Larry Brown.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Presenting Marijuana

A student did a presentation on marijuana in pharmacology class today, and it was embarrassingly bad. The crux of her report involved reading from a couple of issues of High Times she picked up last week, as well as extensive passages from a pro-marijuana book she got from the school library. A lot of this stuff directly contradicted what we've been taught. This isn't to say that opposing viewpoints don't make for a more-thorough and balanced education. It just made me wonder if she was ready for what the reaction would be.

She claimed that marijuana isn't a gateway drug since it's semi-legal in Amsterdam, and they don't have problems with other drugs.

The prof blurted out in the middle of the report, "Where are you GETTING this stuff?"

The prof was more sedate than I expected, even when prompted by students to respond, though she did say that she'd prefer we use empirically-based sources instead of "research done by Cheech and Chong or Joe Blow or Jane Schmuck."

Grades are given immediately following the presentations. Given the fact that I heard the presenter desperately asking other students if they had a copy of the syllabus (which outlines the requirements of the presentation), I gather she didn't receive a good grade.


Still awaiting "the wrath from Angleton," as my brother-in-law put it. We had several phone hangups at home yesterday. Suspicious, but I can't assume anything.


Anyone else use Launch? What gives--did they just ink a new agreement with someone or something? Suddenly stuff I ranked but could NEVER get it to play before is playing. Really, really cool. Soundgarden (which is playing now), Commodores, Marvin Gaye, Helmet, old Rush, great BB King albums (like Live at the Regal--yahoo!), and lots more. This is great.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

It's Done

This is much harder on the nerves than I need right now. I could blow off some steam by spilling my guts, like I usually do, but somewhere in the middle of all this is a line I shouldn't cross.

Thank you all, including those of you who know exactly what's going on, as well as those of you who don't but still have had to put up with me while I live out this scenario's effects.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Damaged Piece

Things are about to get a bit dramatic around here. Won't go into specifics, and I'm kinda sorry to bring it up at all, but hell, it's on my mind. I'll have more lowbrow humor posted soon enough, I'd imagine, so stop back by in a couple days if you'd rather not get a taste of the Life of Brian.


It's not the wife/kids... all that is fine and dandy.

I'm just about to do something really difficult. It's on my mind all the time, either at the forefront of my thoughts or bothering me in my dreams.

If someone has no interest in helping themselves, is a person bad for not sticking around to help them? I've tried to be the good guy for a long, long time in this scenario. Most of my life, and it wasn't my choice to start with.

As I've learned in counseling class, someone who has not yet considered changing their problematic ways is in "precontemplation." That's clear enough: They have not yet even contemplated getting help, changing things for the better. And no amount of motivation will budge someone in this position.

It drags the helper(s) down. It drags me down. Those words don't nearly convey what I'm trying to say.

It does more than drag me down. It's made me doubt everything at some point. The sanctitity of marriage. The possibility of happiness. Trust. Love. Honesty. Safety. Sanity. Sobriety. And I guess the straw that broke the camel's back was when it made me worry for the safety of my children. No, that's a worry I won't tolerate. I will remove myself, remove us, and guarantee that in absolutely no way will my children, or anyone else in my immediate family, be in any sort of physical or emotional peril. I tried to turn a blind eye before. No more.

This won't be the first such occurrence with this person. I worry about the aftermath, worry how dramatic it will be. I wonder how deep this person's narcissism runs. I have a good idea, and it's frightening. I hope that protecting my loved ones and me (me! Finally imposing the distance my heart craves... this is way overdue) doesn't jeopardize anyone else. Sometimes a dramatic display can get out of hand.

A piece of my heart will also break, but you know, I think it's a damaged piece anyway.